The Sequence of Kai
It’s looking back at me.
No, when I open my eyes, she is looking back at me. Even though she doesn’t turn towards me, only glancing my way with cold eyes, they are eyes.
She lets go of my wrist, handing me a note and a mobile phone, the skin that brushes against me is neither warm nor cold.
The note, written in perfect French, tells me to call the police and provides me with an address. It also offers what I think is a warning: I was never here is written underneath the rest.
When Renée sees this happen, she settles some, stops screaming and starts eyeing the girl in the mask.
I call the emergency services.
“Ambulance, fire or police?”
While I’m being transferred to the police, the girl peers out into the hallway and then closes the door.
“Paris metropolitan police what’s the emergency?”
“I’m uh, I’m being held hostage.”
“Are you at liberty to speak freely?”
I look at the girl who gave me the phone, she seems more preoccupied with watching the door than anything else.
“I think so…”
“Can you provide any information about your location?”
“Yeah, one moment… We’re being held in the Malieon Estate, north of Guveaux.”
“Ok, we’re going to get someone out to you. Stay on the line if-”
The girl wraps her hand around mine, forcing me to hang up the call. She leaves the phone with me but takes the note back.
She turns back to us and puts her finger to where her lips would be under her mask to shush us. Lowering her hand to the ground as she points at me, she lets me know I should sit and so I comply. Then she sits on the end of the bed and peers out of the cracks of the boarded-up windows.
I close my eyes and try to see what it is she’s looking at. It’s a mess trying to see beyond its raging symbols but off in the distance, I see someone standing out in the open.
If that’s who she’s looking for, I don’t know how she’s missing them. She keeps flicking her eyes left and right as if she hasn’t found what she’s looking for.
After a couple of minutes, the figure disappears into the forest around us but the girl in the mask remains vigilant.
With nothing else for me to see, I open my eyes and then the three of us remain in silence.
Fifty-seven minutes later we hear the sounds of cars in the distance. I was able to count the minutes because the masked girl never took the phone from me.
I don’t know what she wants and I’m too scared to ask, I have to turn away from her every time I blink.
I hear car doors open and shut then the masked girl jumps up and dashes out to the hall. She looks left and right, and then slices her hand off the shattered glass doorknob.
Renée, who has been silent this entire time, yells out in pain. A cut has opened up in her hand. The masked girl looks back at her and then dashes off to the right.
At the same time the police burst in through the front, they seem to have confirmed that the guards are dead. They’re shouting a lot and the other girls in the house are shouting back so that no one can be heard.
The next few days are a hell of sleepless nights and raw eyes.
The police were understandably baffled when they arrived to a hostage situation with no one but hostages. All the girls that were rescued that day were held for questioning, even though they weren’t the ones who had done wrong. With the two guards on duty dead, there was no one else to question.
I was subjected to some particularly intensive questioning as the one who made the call to the police. They asked me how I’d gotten the phone, how I knew the address or why I hung up.
I couldn’t tell them what I’d seen, what had happened without sounding completely insane. I’m not a good liar so I didn’t do that either. I told them a half-truth, that I didn’t remember much from that day, that I only remembered being scared.
Every time I closed my eyes, I could tell they didn’t believe me. They knew something else must’ve happened, but they had no evidence. People don’t end up shot of natural causes after all, doors don’t kick themselves down either.
I’ve gotten more used to the symbols, but it still hurts to close my eyes. I haven’t been sleeping well. They took me to a station in Paris somewhere, there are so many people, so many things in a city that closing my eyes only makes the world brighter.
One of the days the investigators asked me about the masked girl. They’d been keeping us all separate, to make sure our stories don’t influence each other, but there’s no one other than Renée that could’ve told them about the masked girl.
They asked me if a masked person had broken down the door and given me the phone. They asked about the note and gave an accurate description of what she was wearing. I told them that I did not remember anyone, that I did not remember how I had gotten the phone.
By saying this I’m making Renée’s story less believable. On the day we were rescued, when the officers first entered our room, she screamed at them about how a masked person had hurt her from a distance and run off. The officers swept the area but didn’t find her.
I’d think I imagined it too if I couldn’t still see the symbols. They’re going to think she’s crazy. I don’t want to force that on her but… I’m sorry Renée, I just want to go home.
I remember that warning, that threat on the note the masked girl handed me. Even if she saved us, I’m still scared of her because I don’t know why she did…
A week on from that day and I’m finally being released. They’ve decided that they’re not going to get anything more out of me.
I’ve been told that I can’t go back to my apartment, it’s an active crime scene now. Kylian killed himself, at least that’s what the cops think, I’m not so sure. He definitely didn’t do it out of guilt, and I have a hard time believing he would feel sorry enough for himself to do it otherwise.
Much more likely that he was killed, the masked girl had to find out where I was somehow. I wasn’t asked any questions about it anyway; the police are treating it as an open and shut case and I don’t care to open it again.
I’m too tired.
I’m sorry Kylian. I don’t know if you deserve my sorrow but I’m sorry still.
My mother is waiting for me in the lobby when I get out. Upon seeing me, she runs up sobbing and hugs me.
To close my eyes and know so certainly that this affection is genuine… I’ve done nothing to deserve it. Affection is to be worked for, why is this hug warm?
“Mallory, I’m so glad you’re OK!”
The hug lasts for a couple of minutes before we walk in silence to the car.
Mom is still drying the tears off as she gets into the front seat. The passenger seat is free for me, which I should’ve expected. If Dad had bothered coming, why would he wait in the car?
I get in beside her and we start through the evening traffic of Paris.
It’s silence to the motorway as I struggle to keep my eyes open. The sights of the city hurt when I close them, but I haven’t slept in days, keeping them open hurts too.
I finally close them when we get onto the motorway, the symbols zip by me too fast to understand any of them.
Not now Mom, I just want to rest.
“We need to talk.”
Is now really the time to talk about this? Even if I couldn’t already see what you want to say, I would’ve known. You’re the only woman I know more transparent than me.
“You don’t have to bother. I get it. I’m coming back to live with you, I’m not going back to college, I’m not going back to Paris. I’m going to take all the time I need to recover whether I want to or not, isn’t that right?”
I know she was going to tell me I couldn’t go back for now, that this was a temporary arrangement but we both would’ve understood it was something more permanent.
My parents never wanted me to go to college, much less one so far away from home. Dad had worked hard to make sure we never had to. That’s what I was told. Did I really want to throw away the opportunities he’d made for me? I was told that too. Was I that selfish? That arrogant? That stupid?
“It’ll be good for you! Your father says he’ll find something for you to do, he’s even trying to get tomorrow off work to spend time with you.”
“Tell him not to.”
I turn away from her and pretend to sleep.
Well, my eyes have been closed this entire time, she already knew I was sleeping, now she knows I’m ignoring her too.
I look out at the cars overtaking us.
1, 2, 3…..4, 5, 6….
It’s not as effective as counting sheep but it dulls the mind.
I notice there’s one car that keeps steady with us, dropping neither too far behind us nor speeding off beyond. The driver is very nervous, that’s what I can read from their symbols, though I can’t tell why.
A passenger in the back is surprisingly calm in comparison. Maybe it’s just a nervous driver. I decide to take a look to see if their face is the anxious type.
I open my eyes, but it takes a second for them to refocus on account of my fatigue. The driver looks like he’s seen better days, an office type who’s currently missing his jacket and tie, shirt left unbuttoned at the top.
Probably got fired or had a particularly bad day at the office. Though it’s not overly common for workers who commute this long distance to carpool.
That’s right he had a passenger, where are they? There’s no one in the back seat but I swear I saw the symbols, the coil. I blink and the coil flashes before me, but when my eyes open back up, the person has vanished. I close my eyes again to be certain and sure enough, the symbols in the shape of a person appear.
Has this always been the case? Have invisible people been stalking us all along? What else have I been unable to see until now?
I turn back to see if there’s someone sitting in our car but there’s no one there.
“Are you OK Mallory?”
I ‘look’ back over at the other car. The figure has now turned to face me. It knows I can see it. Reaching forward, it puts its arm around the driver’s neck from behind. My eyes burst open and see his neck being crushed by some invisible force. A split second later the car speeds up and far overtakes us, breaking the speed limit to do so.
“Where’s he off to in a hurry huh?”
My mother tries to break the tension with what she must consider a joke but it doesn’t work.
I’m shaking. I can’t breathe. I can tell that that car isn’t going to stop following us.
Sure enough, half an hour later, I can see the same car just in front of us. It follows us until we turn off to my hometown of Touen.